It’s not ok – what now?
It’s not easy to admit that things aren’t turning out like you planned. Or wanted. But it’s better to get real than keep living in a bad dream.
They might have only hurt or scared you once or twice, but that’s often enough to make you feel nervous around them. If you find yourself going along with whatever they want so you don’t upset them, then that’s not okay. Over time, you can start to lose sight of what you want.
Unfortunately, abuse usually gets worse as time goes on.
1. The first step is to understand what’s happening
- Ask yourself: Does something about this relationship not feel right? Am I going along with what they want to avoid upsetting them? Take the quiz: Is it love or control?
- Listen to and trust your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
- Think about how being treated like this is making you feel. See How do I feel?
- Take any abuse seriously. It’s not ok for someone to treat you badly – even if they have only done it once or twice.
2. Don’t be hard on yourself
You are dealing with a very difficult situation. Remember:
- Abuse can happen to anyone. You are not the only one who has experienced this – abuse is common, and probably other people you know have also experienced it. Even the strongest, most assertive of people can get worn down by an abusive partner.
- Don’t blame yourself – it someone has treated you badly, it’s not your fault. They’re doing the wrong thing – not you.
- Your feelings are important.
- You have the right to be yourself, and to have your own feelings, opinions and friends.
Don’t feel that you are bad, that you are a bad person, silly, stupid, a bitch or whatever they say you are. You are not responsible for his behaviour. You have to re-establish your self-worth. You are worth a lot to people around you, not just to this guy. And also you are worth a lot to yourself.
3. Think about how you can change this situation
Should you stay in the relationship or break up? This can be a tough decision. You might still be in love and hope your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner will change. Or you might want to leave but are scared to.
- See Should I leave them?
- Read advice and stories from other people. Get ideas about what other people did to change things.
- Write your thoughts down in Dear Diary: Weighing it up
- Talk to someone else. Get help. Tell a friend or a family member, or a counsellor.
Writing down all the frustration and worries helped so much, it drained off the bad feelings and helped for me to put things in perspective.
4. Protect yourself
No matter whether you decide to stay in the relationship or leave, there are things you can do to make yourself safer.
If you’re danger, it’s a good idea to call the police.
If you’ve been injured or hurt you can go to a doctor or hospital and get medical help.
I just blurted out everything to my mother. She was pretty shocked…It took a while for my parents to calm down, but I think they had to calm down eventually because I was just so upset and crying and everything. I was partly crying with relief, the relief of having finally told someone. The next day I left school early so I didn’t have to see him afterwards. I stayed at home all weekend. My parents have an answering machine and he left a few messages, some angry, some apologetic, but I didn’t talk to him. One night the next week he arrived at the front door again but my dad didn’t let him in…
5. Talk to someone about the abuse
Don’t go through this alone – talking to someone can help you to work out what to do. Don’t feel ashamed – abuse isn’t your fault. Get help. Tell a friend, a family member, or contact an expert with experience in dealing with this.
So what has helped is heaps of counselling and talking to my new partner now – he was wonderful. Just talking to friends about it as well, just talking and talking to people. I rang Lifeline a couple of times because at the start I didn’t know what was happening. They were really good. My two best friends were just there for me and I knew I could talk to them about what happened and they wouldn’t judge me.
Photo above from Flickr by id-iom